Rival Libyan leaders meet in Italy to discuss possible election

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte arrives for a Libya conference in Palermo Italy Monday Nov. 12 2018. Representatives of Libya's quarrelling factions and of countries keen on stabilizing the North African nation started meetings in Sicily Monday

More than seven years after long-serving leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled by Western-backed rebels with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation air support, no central authority has asserted control over Libya and armed groups control the streets.

President El Sisi, who was in Palermo but did not participate in the official deliberations of the conference due to objections from some Libyan groups, expressed concern at the destabilization of Libya and the active meddling of third countries in the country.

Italy is the latest country aiming to bring Libya's disparate and often warring factions together after a Paris summit in May saw the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and Haftar agree to hold national polls on December 10 - a date which has fallen by the wayside.

In an interview provided by his media office, Haftar said he wanted to meet with African leaders in particular to discuss migration.

Acknowledging the chaotic political situation since dictator Moamer Kadhafi was deposed in 2011, the United Nations last week conceded elections will not be viable before at least the spring of 2019. The envoy said 80 percent of Libyans insist on having elections.

Italy's efforts to host a summit on stabilizing Libya after its seven-year-old conflict appeared to fall flat Tuesday, as organizers on the second and final day of the meeting in Sicily failed to even confirm whether representatives of the main factions were attending.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and U.N. Libya envoy Ghassan Salame, speaking at a joint news conference, said the Palermo gathering was a step forward for a U.N. plan to hold elections in 2019 after a national constitutional conference. Sisi and Haftar both skipped the opening dinner on Monday evening.

The exclusion of Turkey from the mini-summit prompted the Turks to pull out early, adding drama to the two-day conference at a resort on the picturesque Sicilian seaside.

Italy and France have strong business ties in Libya and their growing rivalry, analysts say, is hurting peace prospects. It still aims for a vote next year, but says Libyans should first decide what sort of election they want to hold.

There were no announcements of diplomatic breakthroughs, but Serraj's spokesman said on Twitter that the prime minister was committed to a United Nations road map to hold an election in the spring after a constitutional framework had been put in place.

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